I have had a the pleasure lately of receiving some e-mails from one of my former students at the Poland language camps in which I participate. Yesterday she inquired about Christmas Eve in the United States; I knew she was thinking about wigilia in Poland which features 12 traditional dishes. I replied that the United States is a very multicultural place, and there is no one way to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
I also remembered that one time when teaching the months of the year and important dates I asked the Polish kids what day was Christmas. They answered, much to surprise, December 24 because wigilia is such an important event. Every kid in the United States would answer December 25. I replied in my e-mail to this former student that an evening meal on Christmas Eve is often simple because many people, particularly with young children, attend early evening church services. For example, my church has Christmas Eve services at 4:00, 5:30, 7:00 and 10:00 PM. And in the United States kids who celebrate Christmas must go to bed early so that Santa Claus can bring gifts.
All of that is a long introduction to describing one holiday tradition for me. On the Saturday evening before Christmas all the choirs in my church participate in a concert. Everyone attending brings a bit of a treat for sharing after the concert.
We arrived early enough to see the children's choir practice.
Then evening begins with a carol sing. The director for this session has a great way to manage this. He asks for example, for someone wearing glasses to choose a song. The songs are both traditional Christmas songs such as Silent Night, but also secular songs such as Silver Bells.
Then each of the choirs presents several songs.
Here is the adult choir.
Also participating were the Women's Ensemble and the Unity Singers. The three choirs are open to anyone who wants to sing. The Unity Singers is an audition only group. There are 16 of them and they sing a Capella. The voices must blend together and that is why it is an audition only group.
As the groups were getting up and down, the audience sang a Christmas carol.
The music director said there were 150 people participating in the concert. That is about 10% of my church's membership.
After the concert it was time to eat.
Here's what my plate looked like:
Hope you enjoyed a peek at one holiday tradition.